BEST APPLICATIONS FOR YOUR BUSINESS

By VICKY BROWN

You know, when I sat down to pull this list together, I kind of thought it would be a handful of applications – but when I really thought about it, it turns out there are almost 30 applications that we use to help us deliver service and run the business, while of course making life a bit easier for us as well.

I should also take a time out here to be clear – I am not an affiliate for any of these products, and any opinions I give about how well (or not) they may work is based on my personal experience – yours may be completely different.  So I urge you to take a look at them for yourself and make decisions based on what works for you and your tech environment.

So, to help things track a bit easier, I divided them into categories. The first group is production – what we use to keep our YouTube and Podcasting machines running smoothly.

Every YouTube video starts with extensive research, and part of that research is seeing how the topic might play on the platform.  I use Vid IQ and TubeBuddy for YouTube research.

Once a project is scripted and filmed, then it moves on to editing.  Now, there are a lot of editing software applications out there (by the way, we run on Windows, so I won’t reference any applications that a strictly MAC).  Some editing apps are free, and other are paid.  I’ve used DiVinci and OBS Studio – but for us, nothing compares to CyberDirector.  Why – because it doesn’t crash every 30 seconds.  Now, maybe it’s just me (or my PC), but we had massive issues with DiVinci, and OBS Studio just didn’t have the number of options or ease of use that CyberDirector had (although I still use OBS Studio for some features).  But basically, although CyberDirector is a paid app – we chose it over the free apps, and have never looked back.

During the editing process, we might want to add a little something – that’s where applications like Vyond and Promo.com might come in.  Vyond let’s us create animated videos, and we can also do little inserts for our YouTube videos.  Promo.com let’s us actually create little movies from stock live action footage, and I’ve also used it to create commercials and in some of our educational content.

And we use Placeit.net to do video intros and outtros – it makes that process really easy.

Our Podcasting projects are a bit more straight forward.  Once the podcast is recorded, we use CyberDirector for editing and BuzzSprout for hosting.  BuzzSprout also let’s us grab marketing snippets to use on social.

And speaking of– let’s move on to the marketing apps.

“Active Campaign is my ride or die.”

Our CRM of choice is ActiveCampaign.  I know there are a lot of CRM applications out there, and I have used some of them, but Active Campaign is my ride or die.  I started with MailChimp back in the day.  Since then it has really changed and developed, but it still doesn’t have the flexibility or ease of use that I needed to get things done.  I also experienced the world of InfusionSoft a few years back.  Now, I’m not going to bash them – I’ll just say it wasn’t my cup of tea……my VERY expensive cup of tea.

With ActiveCampaign I find I can easily set up campaigns and automations, and track everything I need.  The one negative I have with ActiveCampaign is the sales tracking module.  It could be a little bit more straightforward and flexible – but I’ll tell you the secret weapon that I used to resolve that issue later, so stick around til the end.

The other wonderful thing about ActiveCampaign is that it integrates with everything.  Most notably Elementor.

Which, of course, brings me to Elementor.  We use it for everything, all our websites, our lead pages – everything.  It’s a web page builder, and honestly it’s the most flexible and easiest to use I’ve come across.  Being a bit of a control freak, I need my page builder to give me massive options, and again, integrate with everything – Elementor does that for me, so it’s my go-to for all things web.

We use Calendly to book discovery calls, and Outlook 365 on the back end.

Of course, I can’t sing the praises of Canva enough.  It massively changed the look and feel of the materials we put out, thumbnails, social postings, powerpoint presentations, lead magnets, even book covers – we use Canva constantly, for all sorts of things.  And if we need something with a bit more sophistication, we can call on a graphic designer through Fiverr.

Fiverr is another platform that’s been a goldmine for us.  It’s a marketplace really, where you can find people with skills for your particular project – usually at a really inexpensive rate.  In fact, both my book editor and proofer were referred by another author, and came from Fiverr.

We use HootSuite to schedule social posts and monitor our feeds (I’m still really bummed we can’t schedule posts to a personal Facebook page anymore).  It makes things a bit more complicated, but that’s where the productivity apps come in.

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I’m a recent convert to Asana.  Now, I know there are other popular productivity apps, like Trello and ClickUp – but Asana is where I landed, and it has been perfect for my needs.  Everything goes in – so I don’t have to try to keep lists in my head, or on scraps of paper.  I’ve also configured it to show me the overarching goals I have for the quarter, month and week – that way I stay on top of getting the important things done every day vs the merely urgent.  And the full production schedule and process for every video and podcast is laid out in Asana.  There are loads of videos on how to create and track a production process – I’ll put a link to a great video from Justin Brown (no relation) of Primal Video in the description.  If you want more detail on the process, check that out.

I also use Evernote a lot, and I mean a lot.  It’s perfect for grabbing pages as you’re browsing – that way I can store great research info for future projects.  You can use it for notes and it has other features as well, but the main way we use it is the browser snipping tool – it’s magical.

We also use applications to help us deliver service and support the operations of the business.  We use Paypal and Stripe for payments and RightSignature for signing documents online.  We use Box.com for document storage –  I know people use DropBox a lot, but I’m much happier with the robust governance and compliance features on Box, because we need that in addition to top level security.

And now – what’s my secret weapon.

It’s SmartSheet.  SmartSheet is basically an online excel program on steroids. Once you create a sheet, you can put automated reminders on it, you can configure forms for other people to complete and it will populate the sheet, you can use it to route things for approval, you can use it to track projects in a calendar view, Gantt view for Card view, as well as the basic grid view.  In fact, I originally had my YouTube production process organized in SmartSheet as a Card View project.  You can put in comments and notes, attach documents, it integrates with loads of applications.  I know, this sounds like a SmartSheet commercial – it’s just that we’ve found so many uses that allow us to just get things done faster and easier.  Again, not an affiliate, but I do suggest you check it out.

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